China Accused of Violating Human Rights of Olympic Athletes in Quarantine

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China has been accused of violating the human rights of a Finnish ice hockey player who has been held in hotel quarantine in Beijing.

The accusation comes as complaints pile up over poor conditions for Winter Olympic athletes during COVID-19 isolation. Those complaints include issues with food, hygiene, and equipment for training.

“For some reason, [China] won’t respect his human rights, and that’s not a great situation,” Jukka Jalonen, head coach of the Finnish men’s ice hockey team, said in a Feb. 6 press conference via Zoom.

Marko Anttila, a ninth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL draft, was “not getting good food,” and he was under tremendous mental stress, according to Jalonen.

“I spoke to him yesterday,” the coach said. “Marko is a strong guy, mentally. He is not depressed, but he’s pretty down. A couple of times a day, he gets cold and tasteless spaghetti bolognese.”

Anttila remained absent while his teammates trained at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing. The country’s first game at the Beijing Winter Olympics is due to start on Feb. 10 against Slovakia, but Anttila can only leave the quarantine hotel after showing two negative PCR tests 24 hours apart from each other.

The athlete tested positive 18 days ago upon his arrival in China, despite several negative tests prior to his departure for Beijing, according to team doctor Maarit Valtonen.

“We are very helpless, and we want Marko out of isolation,” Valtonen said.

Anttila is no longer infectious, and the ongoing isolation is “not medically justified,” according to the doctor.

“Now it looks like it’s more of a culture and a policy,” he said. “The attitude towards the virus is different here.”

More than 350 Winter Olympic participants, including dozens of athletes, have tested positive on arrival in Beijing since Jan. 23.

By Rita Li

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